I was lucky enough to play ambassador to the books this evening.
She came in the door and walked right up to me at the counter and told me that she wanted to read. On the bus, for starters, but hopefully, in the future, even more often than that. She hadn't ever met a book, in the course of her casual and frustrating reading life, that could hold her in its grip. Maybe I can find one a place for her to start? She knows that she wants in. She wants to find out why people read.
THIS IS THE BEST THING THAT CAN HAPPEN TO ME AT MY JOB.
Maybe once or twice a year I am presented with the opportunity to introduce someone to reading, but the novice usually approaches books, and me, with embarrassment; almost apologetically. None of that with this woman. Perhaps in her late twenties, she told me she had only ever enjoyed biographies about people she already wanted to learn more about. Now it was time to experience reading for other purposes. She seemed unsure of what those purposes could be. But she told me about herself, what she does, what she wonders about when she sees books in other people's hands. She wondered why everyone seems to read the same books at the same time, and how all the other people find their way among the millions of other books there are to read.
And how did I start reading?
I told her a little bit about how I choose my next book, but that it was different for every single person. And the only way to know what you like is to gamble. To allow yourself the room to be disappointed maybe by this book; but to let disappointment guide you to the next one.
She loved to play soccer, I gave her Nick Hornby's Fever Pitch. An obvious step is the best step when it's your first. She obviously is someone who thinks a lot about people, and about what makes them do the things they do, so I gave her This I Believe. I tried to sell her Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis, because she said her boyfriend is English, and I only ever need the very slightest of provocations to try to get Lucky Jim into someone's hands.
It sounded like she wanted to form a habit.
Welcome to Booksmith: your local, independent pusher.